Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy birthday, James Branch Cabell

It is the birthday of writer James Branch Cabell (1879), whose books of humorous fantasy captivated readers in the 1920s but fell out of favor by the 1930s. His best-known book was Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice (1919), in which the medieval protagonist seeks chivalrous courtly love but instead seduces women everywhere he goes. It contains parodies of the Arthurian legend as he encounters Queen Guinevere and The Divine Comedy as he dallies with the Devil’s wife. Filled with double entendres, the book attracted the attention of self-appointed censors. After two years, the publisher won an obscenity trial, which had the effect of gaining the book and the author a much wider audience. Cabell published 52 books, including short story collections, poetry, genealogies, and novels.

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